Welcome to the David Victor Vector Blog

Welcome to the David Victor Vector blog. This is blog that covers religious observances around the world international affairs and global business. This blog describes religious holidays for most major religions as well as raising issues dealing with globalization, international business ethics, cross-cultural business communication and political events affecting business in an integrated world economy. I look forward your discussion and commentary on these articles and subjects. Enjoy!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ashura 2017

At sunset on the night of Friday, September 29 (for 2017) and lasting through the sunset on Saturday, September 30 is the Islamic holiday of Ashura. Some Muslims in North America follow a different interpretation of when the holiday starts and observe it from Saturday evening September 30 through sunset on Sunday\\October 1. This post in no way is meant to indicate the interpretation for which of these is correct; I simply want to make readers aware of the dates possible. 

As part of the religious observance discussions, I would like to share a bit on the holiday with you. Because Arabic does not transliterate consistently into other languages, Ashura is also commonly spelled as Ashoura or Ashurah. In India, where it is a national holiday, it is often known as Moharram and in the Caribbean (especially Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica) the holiday is called Hosay.

Sadly this holiday has often been marked by sectarian violence. With this in mind, I have given below a list of the many Ashura attacks since 1994.

Religious Significance

While Ashura is celebrated by all Moslems, it is of particular importance to Shi’ites for whom it is one of the most important holidays of the Moslem calendar.

For most Moslems – Shi’a and Sunni alike -- Ashura is believed to be the date that Nuh (Noah in the Jewish and Christian tradition) had his ark come to rest after the Flood.   It is also believed to be the birthday of the Moslem Prophet Ibrahim (who is the same person as the patriarch Abraham of the Jewish and Christian Bible). Some Moslems believe that Ashura will be the date on which Qiyaamah (doomsday) will take place (although this position is rejected by many others).  Finally, Ashura is widely believed to be the anniversary of the creation of the Ka’aba, the holiest structure in Islam and the center point of the haj to Mecca.

Husayn ibn Ali (626-680)
For Shi’a Moslems, Ashura is the anniversary of the murder of Husayn ibn Ali at the Battle of Karbala in the year 680 (61 AH in the Moslem calendar).  Husayn ibn Ali (born in 626) was the grandson of the Prophet Mohamed and is considered by Shi’ites to have been the Third Imam and thus the rightful successor to the Prophet.  As this is one of the centrally defining beliefs of Shi’a Islam, Shi'ites believe that (what they view as) the martyrdom of Husayn is symbolic of the sacrifices needed in the face of all that is unjust, oppressive or  repressive.  

For Shi’ites, Ashura is a mandatory fast day and a day for mourning.  Many Shi’ite traditions also include public gatherings of men who beat themselves on the chest, cut their heads and similar activities to share in the pain that Husayn ibn Ali experienced. The Ashura page on the Holiday Year website has a selection of some (moderately graphic) images of worshippers cutting themselves in worship at

Many Shi’ite traditions include special chants accompanied by drumbeats and stage performances reenacting the Battle of Karbala.

Most Sunni Moslems also celebrate Ashura, although they do not usually recognize anything to do with Husayn ibn Ali.  For Sunnis, Ashura marked the 10th day (Ashura actually means 10th in Arabic) of the Hejirah, when Mohamed fled with his followers to Medina.  He found the Jews there (on Yom Kippur) fasting in what the Moslem tradition considered to be in remembrance of Moses (a prophet for Islam as well as Judaism).  It is for this reason (with nothing to do with Husayn ibn Ali) that Sunnis have an optional fast on Ahurah.  It should be noted that Sunnis – while they feel no religious importance with the death of Husayn ibn Ali -- do regard his death as a sad incident of
historical significance.   


Imam Husayn Shrine, Karbala, Iraq
Karbala, Iraq (also spelled Kerbala, Kerbela and Karbela) is the site of the Battle of Karbala. It remains a major pilgrimage destination for Shi'ites in particular, although often visited by other Moslems as well.  In the Imam Husayn Shrine in Karbala are the tombs not only of Husayn ibn Ali but also of the 72 martyrs of the Battle of Karbala.
Indeed, because of its significance, for centuries, worshippers have gone on pilgrimage to Karbala, Iraq to the shrine of Husayn’s martyrdom there. 

As a side note, under the regime of Saddam Hussein, Ashura pilgrimages were banned because Saddam (probably at least in part rightly) interpreted the demonstrations at Karbala as expressions of protest against not just tyranny in general, but as specifically against those who considered his own rule tyrannical.  Only in 2004, with the fall of Saddam Hussein, were Shi’ites allowed again to make the pilgrimage to Karbala.  Sadly, 2004’s pilgrimage was marred by widespread violence including bomb attacks among the pilgrims which killed 170 people and wounded over 500 others.

History of Violence

 Rawalpindi Ashura Attack, 2013
Because of tensions between Shi’ites and Sunni Moslems, Ashura has sadly been marked by violence between the two groups in recent years.

Ashura last year in 2016 was no exception. Gunmen opened fire on worshippers at a Shia shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan. The attack left 14 dead and over 40 injured.

The previous year, 2015, was similarly marred by deadly attacks on worshippers. In Pakistan, there were two major attacks. In Jacobabad, a suicide bomber killed 23 (including 10 children) and injured 40 at a Shia worship procession. In Saihat, Saudi Arabia, an Islamic State gunman attacked Shia worshippers proclaiming their mosque an "infidel temple" and killing five and injuring nine others.  In Dezful, Iran, drive-by gunmen shot into a crowded Shia Ashura ceremony, killing two worshipers. This was particularly unusual as Iran is a majority Shia country.  Meanwhile, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, three bombs were detonated among a crowd of Shia worshipers, killing one and injuring 80. In Dakosoye, 20 miles outside of Nigeria's capital Kano, Boko Haram suicide bombers killed 21 Shias as the walked in a worship procession. In Shaab, Iraq, a suicide bomber claiming allegiance to Islamic State injured 23 Shia worshippers (IS claimed 20 were killed but there was no evidence for that).

In 2014, attacks took place in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Nigeria. Armed with machine guns in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia, gunmen killed five Shia worshippers and injured nine more. The event was captured on video and had widespread distribution on social media. In Baghdad, Iraq multiple attacks took place including a truck bomb at a checkpoint killing 20 and injuring 53, and a bomb hidden at a refreshment tent for Shia worshippers which killed four more people. The following day, multiple car bombs went off in Baghdad at Shia hospitality tents for Ashura worshippers in the Sadoun, Saidiyah and Sadr City neighborhoods, together killing 28 and injuring 67. In Potiskum, Nigeria, a Boko Haram suicide bomber killed 27 and injured 80 others as they worshipped at a Shia Ashura service.

Similarly, in 2013, several attacks including a suicide bombing left 41 worshippers dead in Karbala, Iraq. At the same time, a suicide bomber in Diyala Province, Iraq left 32 dead and 96injured.  In Pakistan a Sunni mob attacked a Shi'ite procession in Rawalpindi, Pakistan leaving 10 dead and 80 injured.

In recent years, in 2012, a bomb attack on a Shi'ite procession in Dera Ismail Khan in Northwest Pakistan  left seven people dead (including three children) and over 30 injured. On Ashura, 2011, in two separate attacks in Afghanistan and one in Iraq, Shi'ites were targetted. In an unusual targeting of Shi'ites in Afghanistan, 63 people were killed and over 100 injured in separate attacks in Kabul and the normally peaceful Mazar-i-Sharif.  Meanwhile in Iraq, in Hilla, two car bombs targeted Shi'ites. Hilla is a city on the pilgrimage route to Karbala. The first hit a crowd of mostly women and children killing 16 and injuring 46; the second (involving two coordinated bomb explosions) killed at least six more and wounded 18.  Seven additional bombs were set off among Shi'ites in three separate locations in Baghdad killing at least 8 and injuring 18 more. Finally, a gunman on the outskirts of Baghdad opened fire on Shi'ites marching in a procession toward Karbala, killing two and wounding four.

For coverage of the 2016 Afghanistan attack, please see:
For coverage of the 2015 Pakistan attack, please see:
For coverage of the 2015 Saudi attack, please see:
For coverage of the 2015 Iran attack, please see:
For coverage of the 2015 Bangladesh attack, please see:
For coverage of the 2015 Nigeria attack, please see:
For coverage of the 2015 Iraq attack, please see:
For coverage of the 2014 Saudi attack, please see:
For coverage of the 2014 attacks in Iraq, please see:
For coverage of the 2014 attack in Nigeria, please see:
For coverage of the 2013 attack in Pakistan, please see:
For coverage of the 2013 attacks in Iraq, please see:
For coverage of the 2012 attack in Pakistan, please see:
For coverage of the 2011 Afghan attacks, please see 
For coverage of the 2011 Iraqi attacks, please see

The modern history of sectarian killings on Ashurah began with the 1994 attack in Masshad, Iran when a prayer hall bombing murdered 25 worshippers.

Over the last decade, a partial list of violent sectarian attacks on Ashura would include:
  • 2004, Karbala and Baghdad, Iraq – Over a dozen coordinated suicide attacks, 178 killed, at least 500 injured, Baghdad, Baqouba and Latifiya, Iraq – Coordinated suicide bombing, 27 killed, 60 wounded
  • 2006, Hangu, Pakistan – Attacks on Shi’ite worshipers, 36 killed, over 100 injured
  • 2006, Herat, Afghanistan -- Two Shiite mosques burned to the ground accompanied by mob attacks, 4 killed and 27 injured
  • 2007, Balad Ruz, Iraq – Suicide bombing of Shi’ite procession, 23 klled, 57 injured
  • 2007, Baghdad Iraq – Coordinated bombing and gunfire attacks on Shi’ite pilgrims, 9 killed, 24 injured. 2007, Hafriya, Iraq
  • 2008, Basra, Iraq and Nasiriya, Iraq -- Clashes between the Iraqi military and the militant Shi’ite sect Jund As-Samaa (Soldiers of Heaven), 263 people killed -- Security checkpoint protecting worshippers attacked, 2 killed
  • 2009, Karachi, Pakistan – Procession bombing, 43  killed, 60 injured; additionally, police arrested five terrorists as they thwarted a plot to hand out cyanide-laced water to Shi’ite pilgrims in the procession
  • 2010, Chabahar, Iran – Double suicide bombing attack on Shi’ite procession, 33 killed, 95 injured 
  • 2011, Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan – Two suicide bombings, one at the Abu Fazi Mosque in Kabul during services left 70 people dead and at the Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif left 4 dead.\
  • 2011, Mahmoudiya, Iraq -- Bombing kills one and injures 3
  • 2011, Latifiyah, Iraq -- Bombing kills 2 and injures 4
  • 2011, Mosul, Iraq -- Twin bombings kill 2 policemen and kills 3 civilians and injures x 
  • 2011, Baghdad, Iraq -- Eight separate attacks killing 34 and injuring 64
  • 2012, Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan --  Procession bombing killing 7 people (including 3 children) and injuring 90
  • 2012, Sanaa, Yemen --  Bombing killing 4 people and injuring13
  • 2013, Karbala, Iraq -- Suicide bombing killing 41    
  • 2013, Diyala Province, Iraq -- Suicide bombing in Diyala Province, killing 32 and injuring 80 
  • 2013, Rawalpindi, Pakistan -- Sunni mob attacked a Shi'ite procession killing 10 and injuring 80  
  • 2013, Karbala, Iraq – Suicide bombing kills 41
  • 2013, Diyala Province, Iraq – Bombing kills 32 and injures 80 injured. 
  • 2013, Tikrit, Iraq – Car bombing kills 3 policemen and 8 civilians
  • 2013, Fallujah, Iraq – Three policeman’s houses bombed killing four
  • 2013, Baquba, Iraq – Triple bombing killing 28
  • 2013,  Rawalpindi, Pakistan -- Sunni mob attacks Shi'ite procession in Rawalpindi, Pakistan leaving 10 dead and 80 injured.
  • 2014, Buraida, Saudi Arabia -- Gunmen kill 5 and injure 9 during prayer services
  • 2014, Baquba, Iraq -- Three coordinated bomb attacks kill 8 and injure 28
  • 2014, Tikrit, Iraq -- Car bombing kills 11 including 3 police officers
  • 2014, Fallujah, Iraq -- Three coordinated car bombs target homes of police officers, killing four

As in past messages, I am summarizing a complex and deeply held set of beliefs here, but I still hope that you continue to find these messages of value.

Further Reading\
For more information, Al Jazeera has good article from 2008 on Ashura at

Ashura.com is an entire website devoted to the holiday:

Islam House presents some information (though with a strong position taken against traditional beliefs such as the belief that it will be the date on which Qiyaamah will take place) on Ashura at

Other sources that may prove of interest are at


Philadelphia Dialog Forum


BBC Religions website

Clipart sources

Opening clip art "Every day is Ashura Day":From Teqe America's website: http://teqeamerica.com/events/holidays

The image of Husayn ibn Ali is from the Damascus in History and Pictures website (Husayn's skull was for many years preserved in Damascus' Ummayad Mosque):

The image of the Imam Husayn Shrine is from the free-usage files at Wikipedia at

The image of Rawalpindi Ashura Attack, 2013: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2013-11/16/c_132892310.htm


For 2017, from sunset Wednesday October 4 through sunset on Friday October 13 is a string of Jewish holidays including Sukkot, Shimini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.

Sukkot, the Festival of Booths or Tabernacles, is a major holiday in Judaism, celebrating the harvest. 

The major festival days of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah come at the close of the festival (although technically they are separate holidays).


Jews of all denominations who observe the holiday spend the first morning of Sukkot at synagogue  or temple services. Orthodox and Conservative Jews outside of Israel also spend the second morning in religious services.  

Jews of all denomination may also attend services on Hoshanah Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Many Jews of all denominations (especially those with children) may also attend celebrations and services at the synagogue or temple on the eve of Simchat Torah.  

For general purposes, we can view the week as having major celebrations at the beginning and end of the festival period. The breakdown for all of these dates is a bit complicated, so I have set these down in bullet points the days on which the different holidays fall in 2014 as follows:

Ø   Sukkot: Sunset Wednesday October 4 continuing through sunset on Wednesday October 11. NOTE: The first day is observed fully by many Jews of all denominations and the first two days by Orthodox and Conservative Jews as a major holiday

Ø   Hoshanah Rabah: Sunset Tuesday, October 10 continuing through sunset on Wednesday, October 11 (technically, the last day of Sukkot)

Ø   Shemini Atzeret: Sunset Wednesday, October 11, through sunset on Thursday, October 12. NOTE: Since this is one of the four times of years for formally remembering the dead who have passed away, this holiday may carry strong significance to those who have lost loved ones.

Ø   Simchat Torah: Sunset Thursday October 12 through sunset on Friday, October 13. This is a major celebration for many Jews, and seen as an important holiday by most Orthodox and many Conservative and Reform Jews.

Because the holiday of Sukkot continues for 8 days, throughout the week of Sukkot, evenings are often spent visiting the booths in other people’s houses. For planning purposes for those trying to accommodate employees or students, this should not interfere with evening schedules during the week, but might affect them on the key holidays noted below.

One should be careful not to assume that because one Jewish student or employee is not observing the holiday that this is the same with all of Jewish students and employees. While levels of observance vary on an individual basis, the fact that some Jews may not attend services does not diminish its importance as a holiday to those Jews who do observe the holiday.

For a more comprehensive discussion of the variations in practice see the “A More In-Depth Explanation” below.


There are several names for the holiday, which may be a bit confusing. In Sephardic Hebrew, Sukkot is pronounced “sue-COAT.” In Ashkenazic Hebrew, it is pronounced “sue-KOSE” (to rhyme with “two dose”). In Yiddish, the holiday is called Sukkos (to rhyme with “book us.”  

The spelling may also vary as the words are in Hebrew letters rather than Roman ones. Thus, some people may spell the same holiday Succot, Succos or Sukkes.


Sukkot is the Jewish Festival of Booths (or Tabernacles). The Bible indicates that Jews should dwell in booths during Sukkot:

“You will dwell in booths for seven days; all natives of Israel shall dwell in booths.” Leviticus 23:42

This practice is meant to recall the “sukkot” (Hebrew for temporary shelters or booths; singular “sukkah”) that the Israelites used during the Exodus from Egypt during their wandering in the desert on their way to the Land of Israel.  

This is one of the three major pilgrimage festivals of Judaism (when in the days of the Temple, Jews were required to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem). The holiday is especially closely associated with the Temple in Jerusalem as King Solomon dedicated the Temple on Sukkot.

Traditionally, Jews build their own sukkah outside their homes, temples and synagogues. The sukkah must be a non-permanent structure (so that it is a “temporary shelter”) and must have four walls at least part of which must include “schach” (plant material grown from the ground, such as branches, corn stalks, etc. with the requirement that the material not smell bad). It is also very common to decorate the sukkah (often with children’s artwork). Jews then spend all or part of their days in their Sukkot, and eat all or some of their meals in them.

Sukkot is a very festive and happy holiday, unlike the somber nature of the Jewish High Holidays which precede it. The holiday is a time for visiting friends in each other’s Sukkot, and many congregations have “sukkah hops” where people go from one sukkah to another over the course of one or more evenings during the holiday week.

At religious services in the synagogue or temple, Jews hold daily processions called “Hoshanot” in which they recite prayers for a good harvest while ritually shaking a lulav and etrog which make up the “four species” of plants. The lulav is comprised of three of these four plants: one palm branch, two willow branches and three myrtle branches that are bond together. The etrog is a specific type of yellow citrus fruit (Citrus medica) often called in English a citron. In Ashkenazic Hebrew, the fruit is called an esrog and in Yiddish, an esrig. Not all of these fruits are of equal value, and a perfect etrog is something many Jews highly value. There are many specifications on the nature of what is and is not a kosher etrog, and among those what does and does not constitute a perfect etrog. The use of the four species has a symbolic meaning as a way to rejoice in the harvest. The specific species themselves are symbolic of the whole person carrying them: the palm represents the spine;  the myrtle, the eyes (they have eye-shaped leaves), the willow the mouth (its leaves are thought to be mouth-shaped), and the etrog, the heart.

Variations on these basic customs exist from country to country among Jews. For example, Moroccan Jews often decorate their lulav with silk ribbons and a bell. Moroccan Jews traditional also have an empty chair in the sukkah for Elijah the prophet (who is supposed to announce the coming of the Messiah).

For a more comprehensive discussion of the variations in practice see the “A More In-Depth Explanation” below.


The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshanah Rabah (literally, the “Great Hosannah”).  This last day of Sukkot has special prayers with a procession around the synagogue or temple that circles seven times followed by the beating of the willow branches of the lulav on the ground. Because of the special prayers, some Jews who may not have attended services on the interim days of Sukkot may attend on Hoshanah Rabah.


The day immediately following Hoshanah Rabah is a separate holiday called Shemini Atzeret (or Shemini Atzeres). This is the eighth day of Sukkot and the Shemini Atzeret actually means “eighth day of assembly). On this day, people leave their sukkot and eat in their houses again. This holiday also includes the prayer for rain Tefillat Geshrem. One of the four annual Yizkor services said by Jews to remember the dead are also said on Shemini Atzeret.


Literally meaning “rejoicing in the Torah,” Simchat Torah is one of the most joyous celebrations in Judaism. Traditionally, Jews read the first five books of the Bible (the Torah) from beginning to end in portions throughout the year.  This is the day that the end of the Torah is read and the beginning of the Torah is begun again.  It is a day of festive singing and dancing to honor the Torah.

Simchat Torah is celebrated with having as many people reading sentences from the end and beginning of the Torah scrolls and with singing and dancing with the Torah scrolls. In many cities, the celebrations are carried on with dancing and singing in the streets while holding the Torah scrolls. 

In Israel itself, Simchat Torah is combined with Shimeni Atzeret on the same day. Outside of Israel, the two holidays are celebrated separately one after the other.


In response to feedback from earlier holiday messages, I was asked to share that for all Jewish holidays, observance among the main Jewish religious movements varies both in level of practice and in interpretation of how long the main observance opening part of the holiday lasts. Generally speaking, though, the first day of Sukkot is a major festival day for all Jewish movements. I want to emphasize that, as with all of these religious postings and regardless of the religion involved, I am not passing judgment or suggesting as either correct or incorrect any practice of observance. The purpose of these religious observance posts is simply to give a bit of general background on our religiously diverse campus and to inform those who may not be aware of them so that can accommodate faculty, staff and students who wish to observe them. 

Regarding the differing stances for Sukkot, I will try to summarize some (though not all) of the major differences in observance.

For Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jews, the first two days of Sukkot are observed as one long day (as with Rosh HaShanah). For most (although not all) Reform and Reconstructionist Jews, there is no "long day" so that the first day lasts one day only.  This long day does not apply to those celebrating the holiday in the land of Israel. In Israel, only one day is observed in place of the long day, regardless of denomination. 

For Orthodox Jews and many Conservative Jews, no manner of work can be done on the holiday.It should be noted that within the Orthodox community, length and manner of observance is not seen as a point of personal interpretation. For most Reform and Reconstructionist Jews, length and manner of observance, by contrast, may reflect personal interpretation. For many Conservative Jews, the length and manner of observance similarly are not seen as subject to individual interpretation, but considerable allowance is made for the actual (vs. the ideal) practice of observance.   

Most Orthodox and Conservative and some Reform and Reconstructionist Jews build their own personal sukkah by their home. Some Orthodox Jews interpret the commandment to dwell in booths literally and may actually spend all or much of the week in their sukkah, even sleeping in them  (barring inclement weather).  Many other Jews who build their own sukkot have one or more of their family meals there and spend as much time in them.

It should be noted that many Reform and Reconstructionist Jews do not build their own sukkot, instead using the sukkah build at their temple or synagogue. This is the case too for Jews of all religious streams who can not build a sukkah where they live for one reason or another. At many college campuses, for example, the local Hillel Jewish Student Association builds a sukkah for students living on campus.


Sukkot centers on eating something within the sukkah itself. As a result, several traditions have developed around special Sukkot meals.

Sukkot is a harvest festival. As a result, the foods eaten often reflect fruits and vegetables of some sort to symbolize the harvest. In particular, stuffed vegetables or main dishes and desserts made with fruit are common for the holiday.

Among the most common dishes of Eastern European origin are holishkes or meat-stuffed pepper. Holishkes are appropriate for two reasons. First, they make use of harvest vegetables. Second, when two holishkes are placed side by side, they look like the Torah scroll. A recipe for holishkes can be found on the Eastern European About.com site at


Among Turkish Jews, it is customary to eat bourekas, or oil-crisped pastry pockets stuffed with harvest vegetables. A particularly common version for Sukkot are borekas stuffed with sweetened squash or bourekas can be found on the Jewish Recipe Trader site at
pumpkin.  One recipe for pumpkin-stuffed


Etrog jam
Among Syrian Jews, the etrog is made into jam. Many Jews of Syrian origin still maintain this custom even after persecution and expulsion in the latter half of the 20th Century. Sadly, of the roughly 200,000 Jews who lived in Syria for 500 years from the time of the Spanish expulsion (1492) until the founding of the State of Israel (1948), only an estimated 80 Jews remain in Syria. Still, the thriving Syrian Jewish communities of New York (80,000), Israel (70,000) and Panama (10,000) carry on the customs of this venerable Jewish community. Indeed, within Israel, the use of etrog jam is becoming common throughout the country for many non-Syrian Jews as well. A recipe for etrog jam can be found at


Sukkot apple cake
A common Sukkot dessert among Jews is apple cake as the apples represent the harvest. In fact, eating apples themselves is also fairly common. One recipe for a traditional Sukkot apple cake can be found on the Kosher Food About.com site at 



As with all of the religious summaries provided in thes posts, I do not intend to indicate what is or is not a proper way to observe this or any other holiday. The intention here is merely to be superficially informative.

Chag Sameach! Happy Sukkot!


Sukkot on the Net

Judaism 101

About Judaism,com:

Union of Reform Judaism

Chabad .org

Board of Jewish Education (Australia).org


The clipart used here (unless noted otherwise) is free to download. You can find it at

Amazing Animations

and at
FREE-Bitsela.com at

The opening "Happy Sukkot" image is from

The closing Sukkot banner is from:

The Hoshana Rabbah image is from: http://www.yutorah.org/sukkot/

The food images are as follows:

Holishkes: About.com Eastern European Food: http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/maincourses/r/Jewish-cabbage-holishkes.htm

Fall 2015 Religious Holidays

For several years now, I have posted as a reference overviews for many of the religious observances for Bahai'ism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, neo-Paganism, Sikhism and Wicca. This is intended to allow those teaching or otherwise following a semester academic calendar to  accommodate students, faculty and staff who wish to observe them.

As Fall Semester starts again, we are now coming upon the start of the cycle of holidays once more. For many of these holidays (those from religions that follow calendars that differ from the Gregorian calendar), the dates in the secular year will differ but the main content of the posts should not. 

To that end, I would like to give the dates for the holidays in the next few months paralleling the Fall semester in most US universities (I am, after all, a professor in the United States).

I have noted only holidays to which I have already written a post. These are those holidays that I would argue are the most important holidays within their religion. Admittedly, there are others which may be of strong importance to those who observe them. Thus, I have not included, for example,  the Christian holiday of Advent Sunday on December 1. This does not, however, mean that such holidays are unimportant to those who wish to observe them, which should be kept in mind for religious accommodation purposes.

Similarly, I have left out some holidays that are regionally of importance within a religion but not of such significance beyond the regional context..  For example, I have left out the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12) which is primarily observed among Mexican Catholics. Likewise excluded is Bathukamma  (this year on September 19) which is primarily observed among Hindus from Telangana state in India.

Note also that observance varies according to practice. For example, Reform and Reconstructionist Jews may observe a holiday for one day that Orthodox and Conservative Jews observe for two days. Some streams of Hinduism may observe Diwali for five full days, while others may do so for one, two or three days. While all Muslims recognize Ashurah as a holiday, it holds much greater significance in Shi'a tradition than in most other branches of Islam. Because of this, two people of the same faith may observe the same holiday for different lengths. These are explained for each holiday in the connected blog post. The main point here, though, is that we should recognize such differences in practice as legitimate.


The list below gives the date for 2015, the name of the holiday, the main religion observing the holiday and the previous David Victor Vector post on that holiday.While the dates on the links may be from an earlier year, most of these are regularly updated, and all are corrected for the date when it changes.

September 13 sunset through either September 14 sunset (for most Reform and Reconstructionist Jews) or September 15 (for Conservative and Orthodox Jews)
Rosh HaShanah

September 22
Autumnal Equinox/Mabon
Wicca, Neo-Paganism, Neo-Druidism

September 22 sunset through September 23 sunset
Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement

September 22 sunset through September 23 sunset (depending on the sighting of the moon)
Eid al-Adha/Festival of the Sacrifice

September 27 sunset through October 4 sunset
Sukkot/Festival of Booths/Festival of Tabernacles 

October 4 sunset through October 5 sunset
        Shemini Atzeret

October 5 sunset through October 6 sunset
Simchat Torah

October 18-23
Durga Puja

October 20
Birth of the Bab

October 22 sunset through October 23 sunset (depending on the sighting of the moon) or for some traditions in North America October 23 at sunset through October 24
             Islam, especially Shi’a

October 31 sunset through November 1 Samhain
Wicca, Neo-Paganism, Neo-Druidism
November 1
  All Saints Day

November 1
Reformation Day
Lutheranism, some Protestant sects

November 2
All Souls Day/Día de los Muertos
Roman Catholicism

  November 11-15
          Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism
November 12
Birthday of Bahá'u'lláh

December 6 sunset through December 14 sunset

December 8  
Bodhi Day
December 21
Yule/Winter Solstice
Wicca, Neo-Paganism, Neo-Druidism

December 25
Western Christian faiths (Roman Catholicism, Protestantism)


Before I go on, I should note that all holidays in Islam begin with the actual sighting of the moon. Therefore, the dates given for Eid al-Adha and Ashura are the likely dates for the holiday depending on the sighting conditions. Some debate exists regarding where the moon sighting should occur (e.g., locally or in Mecca). This may also cause observance to fall on a day before or after that indicated in this list. The date given here does not intend to suggest that one or the other interpretation is correct; this date is merely intended to be information for the date most widely observed in North America.

In all likelihood, I have overlooked a holiday or observance. Please feel free to share this with me.

While the links to many of the holidays above were posted in earlier years, they are regularly updated as the holiday approaches for this year. The dates in this post are (to the best of my knowledge) correct for 2015.

Finally, I would like to ask you to spread the word about this blog. If you are not formally a follower, please do add your name to the list through your Google, Twitter, AIM, Netlog or Yahoo account.

Thanks so much!